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INTERVIEW. Hannes SWOBODA calls on Romanians to vote. Farage’s statements, “a racist position”

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Hannes Swoboda, president of the Group of Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D)in the European Parliament, explained the importance of the European elections, in an exclusive interview for caleaeuropeana.ro.

Q: Mr President, Romania is one of the many countries where the Socialists have many expectations from these elections and we studied it a lot on our website dedicated to European affairs, caleaeuropeana.ro, which means the European Path. We promote the European vision and we analyze very deeply the platforms of  Schulz, Juncker and Verhofstadt and promote the debates between the candidates at European level. My first question is which are your main expectations for these elections with regard to Romania?

swoboda

A: First of all, a good participation in the elections. I see there is a lively debate in Romania. And secondly, I expect a strong voice from all the social-democrats, from Mr. Ponta himself and the other candidates on the line of Romania’s connection with Europe and that is a very good orientation, that people are there in the EP for Romania and Romania is working for Europe.

Q-what do you think about the Romanian Socialist Party’s slogan chosen for these elections: Proud that we are Romanians?

A- I think it has to be seen in connection to Europe…proud to be Romanian in Europe, because it is the dirty campaigns of Nigel Farage and others implying Romania is not the same as other countries in Western Europe, but that’s not the case. I think it’s a very good slogan meaning that we are proud to be Romanian in Europe.

Q- you are talking, Mr. President, about the recent statements of Nigel Farage who said he would feel in danger living in a neighbourhood where Romanians would come.

A- it’s a racist position and absolutely unacceptable.

Q- I saw that there is a strong determination to solve the economic problems and have some solutions for jobs ( job creation). How will the Socialists solve this problem in Europe? We are talking about more than 23 million people without jobs. It’s like a country bigger than Romania.

A- I think we have to invest in jobs. We have to spend money for that. We need to find the means to fight against the tax evasion by rich people who, instead of paying taxes, bring the money to differential markets with all the consequences of speculation. There is money and it’s all countries’ concern to invest in European links, which will create a lot of jobs. If you’re going just from Sibiu to Pitesti, you’ll see the need to have a highly efficient link on the road, on the rail…and I think this is what Europe is about: that we have European connections, not only inside the country, but across the borders.

Q-do you think that after this crisis we can say that mostly ordinary people suffered the costs of recovery?

A-of course. Those who have a lot of money can bring the money from one bank to another bank or can buy a property. See cities in Western Europe where the housing prices go extremely up. The rich part of the society don’t get to pay interest rates in the bank, they just build houses in London, Vienna and other places. It is visible that there are parts of the society who are not suffering and who can get some richness and wealth.

Q-do you feel in danger, now that you are in Romania? Because there is a conflict near our borders, in Ukraine. Do you feel safe as a European citizen? Many citizens in Eastern Europe are feeling uncomfortable with this conflict. Maybe those in Western Europe are feeling more secure.

A- of course, Romania is closer by. Last week I was in Kiev and then in Eastern Ukraine and I saw that the deep conflict is not only between Ukraine and Russia, but also inside Ukraine. There are two sides: Russia, who has an aggressive policy, with Mr. Putin, but there are also people from inside the country who are extremists. And I think Europe should have an influence on those responsible to bring people together, to form a unity inside the country. Secondly, we need, for the medium and long term, a common energy policy, which is reducing our dependence on Russian gas. There is a lot for Europe to do, things that countries cannot do individually. We need to go for a European strategy to give security to our citizens.

Q-this is one of the key subjects of this campaign, because, in the beginning, the Socialists seemed to be very close to winning, but after the Ukraine crisis and some misunderstood declarations of Mr. Schulz, the balance changed and some polls talk about the EPP getting a little advantage over the Socialists. Do you think this is real or not?

A-well, I think the Socialists in Romania will be no. 1 because if you look at Mr. Ponta and his government, it’s a clear vision of transforming the country, of modernizing it while respecting the social element. So, I am quite optimistic.

Q-well, this is at Romanian level, but what about the European level?

A-I am still optimistic, because I never bore the illusion that it is some easy way to win. I think it is a very difficult job. Anyway, I think the gap between the Populars and us will be reduced and we’ll be again no. 1. I get information of people… that they will vote for the Socialists, because Martin Schulz is the top candidate. I am very optimistic, but at the same time realistic. Remember that the gap between us and the EPP is quite strong, so if we get close to the EPP, it would already be a gain, but we’ll fight ‘till the end to get to the no. 1 position.

A- We were the first to mention your Tweet regarding putting under charge President Basescu in the summer of 2012. And  you said, that night, after the Constitutional Court decided that it was legal to cancel the results, please stop all campaigns and go to work. We are now talking again about some of the President’s actions promoting the EPP and we saw a lot of debates on it in Romania. Do you think it is necessary to put the President, again, to submit to the judgement of people?

A- as it is now the elections for the EP and there will be the elections for the President next year, I think this will give the citizens a clear view to vote for somebody who will be more constructive, more helpful for Romania. Despite the differences, I think it is more important for the Government to promote Romania’s future and let’s hope for a president who will correct the image and bring the position of president of a country back to somebody who’s promoting the interest of the country and not party politics.

Q- I understand. Do you think Mr. Ponta is suitable for this position?

– I’m not judging an individual person. As for me, I think the Social-Democrats will make the right choice and I hope for somebody who is really leaving party politics behind and is going for Romania, because this is what a president should do.

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ENGLISH

Foreign Affairs Minister Ramona Mănescu: The Strategic Partnership with the US is the central focus of the Romanian diplomacy, while the accession to Schengen remains a priority

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Foreign Affairs Minister Ramona Mănescu said on Thursday that Romania’s accession to Schengen remains a priority of the Romanian diplomacy.

“Evoking the period when I was MEP, I can certainly tell you that (…) all the time both [the European] Parliament and the Commission said Romania was prepared to join Schengen, from a technical and logistical point of view. (…) Practically, we function de facto as a Schengen member state, but de jure we are not regarded as such. Romania doesn’t ask anything but the observance of the Treaty, we are members with full rights, we met our commitments and we seriously continue to meet them, no one can challenge Romania’s contribution to the security space, because we are not talking only about the eastern flank of NATO, we are also talking about EU’s eastern flank,” Ramona Mănescu told Antena 3 private television broadcaster on Thursday, quoted by Agerpres.

She maintained that the Romanian citizens “have all the right to get this well-deserved position of Schengen member state.”

“This is not something we must beg for, or be made a favour. It is provided in the Treaty and it must be observed. (…) I assure you we keep this on the agenda as priority topic, and all bilateral and extended discussions will include the Schengen accession component, we won’t stop from telling our colleagues in the EU that the Romanian citizens have the same rights,” Mănescu underscored, mentioning that, at present, in the Council half of the states support Romania’s accession to the free movement area, and the others oppose.

The Foreign Minister also pointed out that the Strategic Partnership with the US must remain the central focus of the Romanian diplomacy.

She also showed that Romania has the same position towards Russia as NATO and the EU.

“Romania’s position towards Russia starts in the first place from the vicinity we are in, but it is also part of the EU’s position regarding Russia, as we are part of the EU, we must get in line with EU’s stand. I am referring to sanctions, to certain limitations that we have in the dialogue and cooperation with Russia and I am particularly referring to the firm position we have as EU member, which we have always had, of observing the international legislative framework. We don’t ask too much from Russia as an actor on the geopolitical stage if we ask them to respect the international legislative framework. (…) It is the principle which we start from and which we cannot fail to keep not even for Russia, which is here, close to us. We have no reason to make an exception, because nothing is negotiable in this story,” Ramona Mănescu said.

According to the Minister, the relation with Russia represents “a key point in the stability in the area, in securing NATO’s eastern flank, in the manner in which we can further manage the discussions in the Black Sea. “The threats and gestures which Russia has repeatedly done in the Black Sea space, from a military stand, have been sanctioned all the time. (…) Both NATO and the EU have the same discourse. Romania cannot have a different discourse, because it is both part of the EU and NATO, and we are at the Black Sea,” she added.

Mănescu also said that she expected “the energy diplomacy to have its word,” in regards to the resources in the Black Sea.

“Our desire is for a partner such as Exxon to stay here and continue to work together as much and as well as possible. This entails our making some steps in an expected direction. I believe things will settle in the end, enter the right track and I even want to clarify this position shortly and the US partners must be convinced that we’ll be keeping the same line. (…) Mrs PM wants this as well,” Mănescu said.

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Romania has a new Foreign Affairs Minister. Ramona Mănescu took the oath of office

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Ramona Mănescu, Nicolae Moga and Mihai Fifor took the oath of office on Wednesday in the presence of President Klaus Iohannis for the Interior and Foreign Affairs Ministries office, Deputy Prime Minister for implementing Romania’s strategic partnerships office respectively.

The head of state wished success to the new three members of the Dancila Cabinet.

The swearing-in ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, ministers, Deputy Speaker of the Deputies’ Chamber Florin Iordache, Government Secretary General Toni Grebla and presidential advisors.

President Klaus Iohannis signed on Wednesday the decrees appointing Nicolae Moga as Interior Minister and Ramona Mănescu as Foreign Affairs Minister, according to a Presidential Administration release.

Through another decree, Mihai Fifor was appointed Deputy Prime Minister for implementing Romania’s strategic partnerships.

Furthermore, Iohannis took note of Carmen Dan’s resignation from the Interior Ministry and signed the decree dismissing Teodor Meleșcanu from the Foreign Affairs Minister office.

Ramona Mănescu is a Romanian politician and lawyer. She was a Member of the European Parliament serving 2007 to 2013 and 2014 to 2019 from the National Liberal Party (till July 2017), active within the European People’s Party group in the European Parliament.

As part of this group she is a member of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, vice-chair in the Delegation for relations with the Mashreq countries and a substitute member in the Committee on transport and tourism and in Delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula.

Between 2007 and 2014 she was part of the ALDE group in the European Parliament, where she also held the position of Vice-President (11 November 2012 – June 2014) of the ALDE Party (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party). As a member of this group she is a coordinator in the Regional Development Committee and a member in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs.

At the European Parliamentary elections from June 2014, Mănescu renewed her mandate within European Parliament, where she became a member of the European People’s Party group in the Parliament European.

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ENGLISH

Romania: President Klaus Iohannis appoints former MEP Ramona Mănescu as the new Foreign Affairs Minister

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President Klaus Iohannis signed on Wednesday the decrees appointing Nicolae Moga as Interior Minister and Ramona Mănescu as Foreign Affairs Minister, according to a Presidential Administration release.

Furthermore, Iohannis took note of Carmen Dan’s resignation from the Interior Ministry and signed the decree dismissing Teodor Melescanu from the Foreign Affairs Minister office.

Through another decree, Mihai Fifor was appointed Deputy Prime Minister for implementing Romania’s strategic partnerships.

The swearing-in ceremony takes place on Wednesday at 11:00hrs, at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace. 

Ramona Mănescu is a Romanian politician and lawyer. She was a Member of the European Parliament serving 2007 to 2013 and 2014 to 2019 from the National Liberal Party (till July 2017), active within the European People’s Party group in the European Parliament.

As part of this group she is a member of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, vice-chair in the Delegation for relations with the Mashreq countries and a substitute member in the Committee on transport and tourism and in Delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula.

Between 2007 and 2014 she was part of the ALDE group in the European Parliament, where she also held the position of Vice-President (11 November 2012 – June 2014) of the ALDE Party (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party). As a member of this group she is a coordinator in the Regional Development Committee and a member in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs.

At the European Parliamentary elections from June 2014, Mănescu renewed her mandate within European Parliament, where she became a member of the European People’s Party group in the Parliament European.

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